Watercolour and ink sketch.
No aim, just playing and listening to Thelonius Monk.
On Sundays I like to engage in self-improvement activity ™.
I wake up early and I read for about an hour. This could be fiction or non-fiction, as long as it takes book form rather than digital. I have nothing against digital content and I do own a Kindle, but I find most devices distracting. Whatever I read would usually be accompanied by music and a steaming cup of tea, herbal or otherwise.
Improvement would come in any realm. I usually want to improve my character in some way. I learn an easy way to remember names. I do some maths. I cook a new dish or a fresh variant of an old one. I dust off my old nemesis, the guitar.
Today I went to a cafe with my missus and played three games of mancala, or our family version. Then I read from ‘Steve Jobs’ by Walter Isaacson.
One of the first things I came across in the book was this:
“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
I think it sort of echoes George Bernard Shaw’s statement:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
People certainly found Steve Jobs unreasonable. The book says: “Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair.”
Do brilliant innovators have to coax better performance from those around them? Yes. Does it have to be in a negative way? No (and I say that as a person who has driven people to fury and despair). I’ve recently realised that rewards, recognition, modelling good behaviour, these can get more out of people for less (emotional cost).
So: How unreasonable are you?
Today I left the safe confines of my house with no destination in mind.
I’d had a busy time at work and needed to leave in order to engage with the world outside. I needed to encounter real life, whatever that was.
This is what I found out there:
I don’t know who Ted Hinks was, but I’m sure posting this plaque here will serve his memory. RIP, Ted.
I love dead boats. There is a sadness to them and they smell like lost opportunity. I often wonder what lives the boat has touched and why it came to ruin.
The puppet master gave these figurines a life that photography stripped off. The illusion of a few bits of cloth and wood playing a miniature violin was eerie.
Another dead boat. A houseboat this time, and although it is clearly not seaworthy, the house seemed occupied.
This is the detail on the door of the boathouse.
After wandering about on the seaside I hopped on a ferry, did some sketches, then headed for a cafe to meet friends.
I don’t feel more connected, but I still think it was the right thing to do.
Pro: fantastic story, fantastic characterisation, many guest appearances.
Con: does not stand alone, must be read in conjunction with other volumes for full appreciation
I came late to Sandman. When I finally got tired of muscle-bound, spandex-clad Americans beating each other up I started off reading Preacher and then on to Sandman. Even then I started with The Wake (volume 10).
The Kindly Ones is the largest volume and arguably the most affecting. To me it is the climax of the saga, with The Wake being more of an epilogue that an actual chapter.
If you disregard the various culs-de-sac The Kindly Ones is about Morpheus (the Sandman), Lyta Hall, her son Daniel and the eponymous Kindly Ones.
In previous volumes Morpheus, king of dreams, was imprisoned for decades. While he was gone a man took on the mantle of being Sandman. He was married to Lyta and fathered Daniel. When Morpheus returned the pretender died and Morpheus said Daniel was his since he was born “in dreams”.
In this volume Lyta goes on her first “date” in years and returns to find Daniel gone. You must understand that Daniel has been her entire world for so long. She snaps.
Then ensues a mixed hallucinatory/supernatural journey where she meets various incarnations of the Kindly Ones (who might be The Norns or The Fates, depending on your mythology professor) and tries to enlist their aid against Morpheus, whom she blames.
Bear in mind that every being, no matter how powerful, is subject to the Kindly Ones (perhaps with the exception of Death, but that’s a philosophical debate). If Lyta Hall succeeds in activating them it could spell serious trouble for Morpheus and his kingdom, The Dreaming.
The execution of this story is as near-flawless as any narrative you’ve ever read. The cast of “extras” includes Lucifer, Loki, Puck, Odin, Tatiana, and more. Thessaly, the witch, is at her most chilling and most human.
The sorrow, the emotion drips off each page and you see Morpheus not as the embodiment of dreams, but as a “man” bound by his own traditions and customs, searching for a solution, a way out. The desperation is evident mostly in Morpheus and Lyta Hall.
The art deserves particular mention. It is stylised, superb and appropriate. I have had days when I just flipped through the pages of this book without reading the words.
1. First, something you must not do: for the love of all that is holy do not read the introduction by Frank McConnell until you have finished reading the book.
2. Sandman, The Kindly Ones is book 9 of 10. If you haven’t read 1-8 you may find a lot of things going over your head. I’m not saying you can’t follow if this is the first Sandman volume you read, but I can guarantee it will be less rewarding.
Neil Gaiman has done a great thing here. Be part of it.
Summary: You have “much to gain, nothing to lose”. Read It.
Mixed-media on watercolour paper. So far oil pastel, coloured pencils, watercolour, graphite, india ink.